Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Nov 08 2001

I am in Melbourne. This is most definitely not a h…

I am in Melbourne. This is most definitely not a happy thing. I shall explain momentarily. First things first.

After I finished the last entry and logged off at the Internet cafe in Sydney, I walked past a man in a bright blue suit urinating on the street. He wasn’t even trying to be subtle about it. I suppose subtlety is too much to ask of someone who actually bought and wore a bright blue suit for a night on the town. Although bright yellow might have been a better choice, considering his aim.

Yesterday I went to the Australian Museum and looked at the interesting Aborigine exhibit, which was quite educational. One thing I don’t understand is why so many people equate Australian Aborigines with American Blacks. I would think comparing them to Native Americans would be more appropriate? Perhaps people just can’t get past the issue of skin color. They have roughly the same skin color, so they must be the same! Some progress.

As I was at the museum Jeb called and we arranged to meet outside the hostel at 3pm. For once I was on time, and Jeb was already there, looking taller than I had imagined him. He was in a good mood, probably because he had just gotten back from Melbourne. We walked to the tower in the middle of downtown Sydney and eventually found the Disney-esque queue leading to the smallish elevators up to the top. In the elevators were TV screens showing the interior of another elevator, presumably on top of us. The Elevator Lady said that the TV screens were for “communication”. I wonder how they do that. Sign language? Funny faces? I’ll bet that’s not why they’re there at all. I bet it’s just so they can watch people who don’t think they are being watched, and tape them doing silly things like scratching or picking their noses so that they can produce an award-winning TV show called “Australia’s Funniest Elevator Antics”.

The view at the top wasn’t bad, and I made Jeb turn green by casually mentioning that there wasn’t any actual building underneath us, just the one rather skinny elevator shaft. “But there is something underneath us,” he said brightly. “The restaurant.”

“Yeah, but what’s underneath that?” I replied, which made him go green again.

After we entertained the elevator passengers on the way back down with stories about giant bungees and the need to exit quickly before the elevator snapped back up again, we found that our tickets entitled us to a vitual tour of Australia. This was extremely cheesy. We sat in a dark room listening to an audio tape, then in a revolving room watching miniature figures make bad jokes about the rainforest and Australian TV, and then we were taken to one of those motion-chair machines and shown a poor-quality video which had nothing to do with the motion of our chairs. Well, once when an on-screen horse snorted we supposedly were sprayed with virtual horse snot, but other that it didn’t really connect. It just shook us around a lot. I reckon they make a fortune on gather loose change alone.

Alas, Jeb had to go meet someone, so he had to go, but not before he persuaded me that coming to Melbourne would be a really good idea. So I bought a train ticket for the next morning at 7:43. A 12-hour ride. I could watch the scenery, I thought. It’ll be fun. I didn’t feel like going back to the hostel just yet, so I walked around a bit, and was mistaken for a homeless person by a van full of charity workers. “No, thanks,” I said to their offer of food. “I’m stuffed, really.”

Eventually I ended up at the bar I went to before on Oxford Street, called Midnight Shift. I sat around awhile watching a stout Papua New Ginean dancing around half-naked, and then I struck up a conversation with an Australian of Thai descent. I’ll call him K, and he turned out to be quite nice. I found that he works helping out elderly people and also works to better public workers’ working environments. He offered to take me for a ride around the city, and throwing caution to the winds, I said ok.

It turns out that K drives a small convertible MX-5, and we drove around Sydney with the top down and the heat turned up. I gazed up at the lit buildings sweeping by overhead. It was amazing, magical really. I hadn’t been for a ride in a convertible since I was a kid and my dad restored an old Corvair Monza convertible, which was later stolen and trashed. We drove out to Watson’s Bay and sat for a while and talked, and then we drove around a bit more, eventually ending up at my hostel.

So I was in a good mood as I got onto the train to Melbourne. I had a window seat, I was listening to my MP3’s, the weather was clearing. The scenery was beautiful all the way down, although the train food wasn’t anything to write about, so I won’t. At one point a drunken family boarded. They all reeked of alcohol, and the son sat next to me. Junior apparently recognized everyone in the train, including me. “Don’t I know you? I know you, right?” He then wanted to trade hats and then drink more alcohol. “Dad, let me have some more of that stuff,” he said to the father, who was sitting behind us.

“Nah, wait until we get moving,” the father replied.

“Aw, come on? Mum? Give me one more shot?” Apparently Mum was an easier sell. They rode for one stop and then got off at Wagga Wagga. Their stench didn’t leave for another couple of stops, however.

We got to Melbourne at around 7pm. I had planned to get a room at a backpacker’s, have some food, walk around, etc. The only problem is that there was not a single room available. I walked clear around the city, to nearly every hostel and hotel in the downtown area, but noone had anything. In the end I found a horrible little room at a horrible dump on Elizabeth Street for $40 a night. Ook. I guess it will do for one night, but I am going to try to rent a motorcycle tomorrow and head for Canberra as soon as I possibly can. Now is just not a good time to be in Melbourne. The hostels are full, the Internet Cafes don’t have working Internet (“Can this Internet cafe do FTP?” I ask, and just get a blank stare or “What’s FTP?” in response), and everyone here is entirely too happy about the situation, especially considering the fact that I’m pissed off with the entire city at the moment. Why did I come here?

In other news, this site was raked over the coals by the guys at Blog You! Blog You! Blog You! And when those guys rake something over the coals, you can rest assured that they will do it with real panache. Go have a look. I’m going to go find a clown to hit.

posted by Poagao at 11:20 am  

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